People frequently don't like the way they're being ruled, and the rulers are frequently ridiculous, malevolent, or a combination of both.
In totalitarian societies, criticism and mockery of the rulers is often something that can get a person killed. In democracies, being able to make sport of political elites is considered a right. It was, in no small measure, something that led to the American War of Independence.
Insulting politicians serves an essential role in democracies. The ability to do it reaffirms that the society in question is a democracy which respects free speech. Insults often are a short-hand way of reiterating some of the stupid, and in certain instances, evil things some politicians do, and taking down politicians a peg is a way of reminding them that they aren't absolute rulers.
But even in democracies, ruling political establishments have all sorts of means of establishing their authority. Striving to suppress the mocking of their authority is one of them.
One of the most blatantly manipulative schemes of political suppression occurred this week when Canada's Environment Minister, Katherine McKenna, demanded that Rebel Media cease referring to her as "Climate Barbie."
McKenna is a marginally adept Minister who has derided her critics as 'climate deniers', invoking the comparison with Holocaust deniers, and whose responses to serious questions usually take the form of vacuous talking points.
She is, in that way, an ideal reflection of the empty-headed government of Justin Trudeau, a.k.a Prince Bonehead.
Her argument that 'There are lots of girls that want to get into politics and it is completely unacceptable that you do this' is both spurious and is more damaging to the reputation of women in politics than any name-calling the conservative Rebel Media may send her way.
Politics is a tough game, and only people with thick skins can do it well. Male politicians get all sorts of vicious insults hurled at them as a matter of course. Canadian media took matters even further when Rob Ford was mayor of Toronto. In addition to tirades of insults about his appearance, outlets like the Toronto Star stalked and harassed the man, going so far as to have a reporter skulk around his home and follow him to see if he was cheating on his diet.
That's part of the business that politicians get into, and women from Margaret Thatcher to Hillary Clinton have endured insults as capably as any man.
But the message from Catherine McKenna, rather than taking an insult as one directed at her personally, as it was intended, is to sleazily try to re-craft it as an insult to all women. In so doing, the implicit message Climate Barbie is sending out is that women are less capable of dealing with the realities of political life than men.
McKenna's preposterous claim that women with political aspirations won't be able to handle insults the way men can is of itself an insult to women. It's a way of saying women are weaker than men and need special treatment to accomodate them.
McKenna's demand that she be treated gently, and not have to endure insults, are in essence her saying that her brain needs a wheelchair ramp for her to be able to fulfill her role as a government minister.
As Harry Truman famously said, "if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."
Shamefully, Catherine McKenna, who clearly can't take the heat, is saying that women who are trying to get out of the actual kitchen and into the political kitchen are doomed to failure.
But McKenna doesn't speak for all women. She only speaks for herself and Prince Bonehead's government. And in that, she is doing a typically poor job.
November 7, 2017
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